A murky world where the truth may never be fully revealed
When it comes to the issue of Northern Ireland’s past and what happened and why, there will be questions for many republicans, including Danny Morrison — Sinn Fein’s former publicity director
Those questions are across a range of issues — orders, actions, leadership policy, statements, explanations, the things that have to do with the IRA campaign and its killing.
But the day of those questions and answers may never come. There is still no certainty about a truth process or its participants.
In the here-and-now, Morrison, a west Belfast republican, has some questions of his own — awkward questions for the state. He is far from convinced that he will get his answers.
“Ninety-nine percent of what the IRA did is known. The IRA did La Mon, the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten. The state is different. The state is not as candid,” he said.
Morrison’s conviction in 1991 for the false imprisonment of the IRA member and Special Branch informer Sandy Lynch is to be quashed. The Criminal Cases Review Commission sent a “confidential annex” to the Court of Appeal and the Public Prosecution Service.
Morrison wants to know what is in it. He may never be told.
There is information that will be forever part of the hidden war.
Morrison is convinced the identity of an informer is being protected, and he believes the role of that informer could prove “an example of state terrorism”.
“I believe Scapatticci set me up,” he said.
This is where the story enters that place that is called the dirty war.
Morrison means Freddie Scapatticci. He was part of the IRA’s internal security department, tasked with the business of interrogating suspected informers.
But he had another role — as the Army agent, codenamed Stakeknife.
In January 1990, Scapatticci’s team, including another suspected agent, interrogated Sandy Lynch and extracted a confession.
Morrison was sent for — needed at the house where Lynch was being held. By now, Scapatticci’s team had left.
As events unfolded, the informer Lynch was rescued in a police and army operation. Morrison was arrested in a nearby house.
He maintains his only involvement was because Lynch had agreed to do a news conference — to tell all about his role with the Special Branch, and that Scapatticci had arranged this.
Morrison’s argument is that Lynch was of more value to the IRA alive.
But set Lynch to the side for a moment. If Scapatticci’s role in all of this is as described, then in Morrison he delivered a republican prize into the hands of the police. This was the republican man of words — of so many statements and explanations in the course of that long war. Now, he was going to jail.
As the story emerged at that time, it was suggested that Lynch had saved the life of the then North Belfast MP Cecil Walker — that the IRA had been planning to kill him in a bomb attack.
Take Scapatticci, the agent with a killing role inside the IRA. It has been described as the “culling” of informers. Did no-one know?
There is an opinion that he will be protected at all costs — because if he is not, “the house comes down. You don’t work in that department without getting your hands dirty,” a source said.
He means the IRA’s internal security department and the blood that is on the hands of Scapatticci — the agent Stakeknife.
Ugly truth is buried in war.
The story of 1990 has many informers at play — at least one of them suspected of multiple murder.
Morrison may never get his answers.